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Ecclesiastes 1:16

Futility of Secular Wisdom

1:16 I thought to myself, 1 

“I have become much wiser 2  than any of my predecessors who ruled 3  over Jerusalem; 4 

I 5  have acquired much wisdom and knowledge.” 6 

Ecclesiastes 2:9


2:9 So 7  I was far wealthier 8  than all my predecessors in Jerusalem,

yet I maintained my objectivity: 9 

1 tn Heb “I spoke, I, with my heart.”

2 tn Heb “I, look, I have made great and increased wisdom.” The expression הִגְדַּלְתִּי וְהוֹסַפְתִּי (higdalti vÿhosafti) is a verbal hendiadys; it means that Qoheleth had become the wisest man in the history of Jerusalem.

3 tn The phrase “who ruled” does not appear in the Hebrew text, but is supplied in the translation for clarity.

4 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

5 tn Heb “my heart” (לִבִּי, libbi). The term “heart” is a metonymy of part for the whole (“my heart” = myself).

6 tn Heb “My heart has seen much wisdom and knowledge.”

7 tn The vav prefixed to וְגָדַלְתִּי (vÿgadalti, vav + Qal perfect first common singular from גָּדַל, gadal, “to be great; to increase”) functions in a final summarizing sense, that is, it introduces the concluding summary of 2:4-9.

8 tn Heb “I became great and I surpassed” (וְהוֹסַפְתִּי וְגָדַלְתִּי, vÿgadalti vÿhosafti). This is a verbal hendiadys in which the second verb functions adverbially, modifying the first: “I became far greater.” Most translations miss the hendiadys and render the line in a woodenly literal sense (KJV, ASV, RSV, NEB, NRSV, NAB, NASB, MLB, Moffatt), while only a few recognize the presence of hendiadys here: “I became greater by far” (NIV) and “I gained more” (NJPS).

9 tn Heb “yet my wisdom stood for me,” meaning he retained his wise perspective despite his great wealth.

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